Born in Jasper, Alabama, Bankhead attended the public schools. He was graduated from Marion (Alabama) Military Institute in 1916, from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1919, and from the law department of the same university in 1920. He was admitted to the bar in 1920 and commenced practice in Jasper, Alabama. He served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention at Chicago in 1940.
Bankhead was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-seventh Congress and served from January 3, 1941, until February 1, 1941, when he resigned. He resumed the practice of law. He served as chairman of the board of Bankhead Mining Co., Inc., and Bankhead Development Co., Inc.. He served as president of Mammoth Packing Co. and Bankhead Broadcasting Co., Inc.. He served as vice chairman of the board of directors, First National Bank of Jasper. He was a resident of Jasper, Alabama, until his death in November 1988.